The Best First Impression At Work

Posted on December 10, 2011

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There’s something to be said of first impressions. They’re made particularly quickly and even before you’ve said anything. I know when I’ve done interviews that as soon as a person has walked in, I’ve already detected their level of confidence, judged their appearance and made assumptions as to how the next hour will go. If you’ve got the job, then the first week is pretty much, only made up of first impressions. This is what I try to do in my first week of starting a new job:

1. Don’t rock the boat. Nobody likes the new guy who tries to recreate the whole world. You obviously want to come and show that you know something, that you’re not a dud and that you’re the best investment decision the company has made, but there is a way of doing that without rubbing people the wrong way. If there are things wrong with the first project that you work on, then you need to make sure you got your facts right or that you bring it up in the most sensitive way; people are going to be a bit more critical than usual of the new guy as you don’t have a reputation yet. In these initial weeks, I would provide my feedback in an inquisitive way that would make people come to your conclusion.

2. Dress like them. Give yourself the first few days to figure out how people dress. I’ve always found that whilst there is a recommended dress code, there is slight variation to that, depending on the department you’re in. You’re looking to fit in and get people onside, at least initially. Dressing differently or strangely makes it more of an uphill battle.

3. Be friendly when people are friendly, be the business when its business. Everyone’s different, so when the friendly chatty work colleague asks about how your weekend was, then talk about that rom-com the girlfriend made you watch, if a department head wants to dig a little deeper on how your experience can be used for a new project, then get selling and impressing.

4. Remember names. People almost expect you to forget their names, especially in the first week. However, you should be the exception. Use little name / face tricks to easily remember (good blog here). Write down a name / desk map, as well as any notes on topics that these people specialise in, so that you know who to go to.

5. Show initiative and be proactive to your boss. Ask or identify projects that you can get involved in. Ask or identify further training opportunities. Preferably identify these yourself rather than just simply ask, although they both show that you’re keen. You want to be described as ‘on the ball’; this shows them that. Get this information from the people you’re introduced to. No doubt you’ll have to meet every man and his dog, but from this extensive list, identify who you’ll be working with and get the inside track through them.

I’ve always followed these rules and it hasn’t failed me. Give them a go and tell me how it goes.

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Posted in: The New Job